A note on slush piles, agents and my laziness!

Dear loyal readers,
It has been a very long time since I updated this blog-something which is entirely my fault-but I have been rather swamped in the last month or so with personal projects and professional ones. The good news is that I’ve finally finished the first draft of The Vanquished Crown, the bad news is that I’m now in that horrible position of writing billions of cover letters and synopsises for various agents.
For any aspiring writers securing an agent is vital if you want to be published. Times are hard in the publishing industry, and the big houses will not read submissions that are not submitted by literary agents. I’m sorry to tell you that these sad first drafts are sent to the dreaded ‘slush pile’, doomed to be read by not even the lowliest of interns. So that is the bad news going on at chez Saskia, but there are so many bright-sides to my situation that I’d be stupid not to appreciate them. Firstly, the bloody thing is finished, something I never would have believed possible! There have been a few times when the fear of failure and the daunting task have gotten to me, but even to my own surprise, I’ve persevered. Secondly, I’m pleased (to an extent) with the book. Of course it’s by no means perfect-it needs a good edit as it’s far too long-but I have been told by harsh and constructive critics, that it’s rather good. As I’ve mentioned before, there have been a few passive aggressive comments directed at the book, my research methods, and even this blog but those people are irrelevant and their criticism void.

Sadly slush piles are not as colourful and tasty as slush cups!
Sadly slush piles are not as colourful and tasty as slush cups!

However, as a writer I welcome constructive criticism from people who are only trying to help. A special shout out has to go to the wonderful, formidable, friend and author: Jacky Hyams. From day one Jacky has been a supporter and sounding board, at one point she sat me down for nearly 3 hours and went through paragraph by paragraph of chapter one, giving me notes for improvement. These notes have only improved my work and everything Jacky pointed out were obvious things writers just do not recognise in their own work. For all her feedback, Jacky told me that the book itself is good, something that every writer longs to hear. I urge you to check out Jacky’s books if you’re interested in 20th century history and biographies as that’s her speciality. These include: Bombsites and Lollipops – My 1950s East End Childhood: My 1950s East End Childhood, White Boots & Miniskirts – A True Story of Life in the Swinging Sixties: The follow up to Bombsites and Lollipops, Bomb Girls – Britain’s Secret Army: The Munitions Women of World War II, The Real Life Downton Abbey and The Female Few: Spitfire Heroines of the Air Transport Auxiliary. The biographies Bombsites and White Boots are touching, frank and at times humorous, while her histories are well researched paint a vivid picture of their subject matter.

Great read for 20th century history fans!
Great read for 20th century history fans!

Any aspiring writers out there: anybody who puts you down is jealous and only seeks to make you hurt so they feel better, however do find somebody who is prepared to tell you the good, the bad and constructive, because everybody needs that.
So that’s the state of my book at the moment, Henry is hovering in limbo land but I am optimistic about the final outcome as that is all one can do.

On a better, non book note, I’ve been paid to carry out actual research for somebody else, I’ve finally been paid to do history!! I am bound by confidentiality, so I can’t reveal the client or their work, but I can give you a sneak peak of the research I’ve done. For once it wasn’t medieval, I was thrust into the unfamiliar world of early Georgian London, a period I know a small amount of. Like the early medieval period, the 1720s is a period of great change, it is before all the stereotypes we have of the Georgians-there are not giant wigs or regency parties-instead, London is on the brink of social reform, teetering on the dying embers of the Stuart regime and the new Hanoverian royal family. It’s endlessly flattering and I will dedicate a blog to it as it is somewhat of a forgotten period. That said I’ve got two blog posts almost 100% ready to submit, both of which are thoroughly medieval so don’t you worry, I’ve not become a modernist! These posts will be up before yet another trip to France, which I promise I will blog about relentlessly.

Once again, sorry for my antisocial absence from this blog and also the distinct lack of Henry facts. I hope you’ve enjoyed this advice for writers and also some shameless shout-outs to fellow writers. Follow the wonderful Jacky Hyams on twitter @HACKY1 and definitely pick up her books at any good bookstore.
Next time on Plantagenet Lions: an actual medieval topic and a sneak-peak into the subject of book II!
Over and out!

A clue for book two...
A clue for book two…

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